Is the Grace of God Present in the Soviet Church? – Session 1
Listen to this session at https://www.spreaker.com/user/youngfaithradio/ourstruggleclass7_1
Recently we began a reading and discussion of the essay by I.M. Andreyev, “Is the Grace of God Present in the Soviet Church.” Below are the outline notes for sessions 1 and 2. These discussions will be listened to with much interest by those who are concerned about finding and remaining in the real Orthodox Church during these times of spiritual confusion and apostasy. It is strongly recommended to obtain the booklet containing this essay, from Monastery Press, at https://monasterypress.com/sovchurc.html.
This is a landmark essay by a great mind of true Orthodox in the 20th century. Important for several reasons:
1. It summarizes the position of the confessing Russian Church – the Catacomb Church and ROCOR – of the Soviet period.
2. It explores the question of how a church can appear outwardly beautiful but still not be the Church.
3. It links ecclesiology to Orthodox anthropology and soteriology by linking the question of grace to the question of the distinction between the psychic and the spiritual.
4. It offers an example of a painful struggle for discernment of the presence of the spirit of Christ vs. the spirit of Antichrist in situations when the canons do not give clear guidance.
Tonight we shall begin reading the introduction to the 2000 edition from Monastery Press, by Protodeacon Christopher Birchall.
Is the Grace of God Present in the Soviet Church?
Listen to the audio podcast of this lecture at https://www.spreaker.com/user/youngfaithradio/andreyev2
A. The Nature of the Soviet Authority – pp. 23 – 26
1. Legitimate authority established by God (Romans 13:1)
2. “But an authority which does not recognize the higher authority of God over her, is not an authority but a despotism.
3. Sovietism denies the essence of authority itself.
4. Atheism – Pride and indifference.
5. Soviet system a perfected system of extreme evil without precedent.
6. Communist party the mystical body of Antichrist.
7. The choice presented by the Soviet authority anticipates the trial of the faithful in the time of Antichrist.
8. Final goal of Bolshevism: world government.
9. Must see Bolshevism as a spiritual phenomenon. To see it as just another cruel system of government is too miss the essence of what it is. It is a mystical reality.
B. The Response of the Confessing Church to the Declaration of 1927, pp, 26 – 30
1. The confessing true Church of Russia regards the Soviet authority as an Antichrist anti-authority.
2. The delegation of the Petrograd diocese of 1927, of which Andreyev was a member. The response of Sergius: to laugh.
3. Those who rejected the Declaration did so on moral grounds, not simply political allegiance.
4. The followers of Sergius declared that the martyrs were criminals and that Stalin was the “chosen of God.”
5. Many of the best bishops, clergy, and theologians rejected the Declaration. Initially the rejection was widespread. Anti-Sergianism was put down not by any canonical means or theological argument, but by the violent physical elimination of all those who opposed the Declaration. Their imprisonment, torture, and death was accomplished with the full knowledge, cooperation, and approval of Sergius and his “synod.”
C. The “Canonical” Basis of the Sergianist “Synod” – pp. 30 – 31
1. Sergius violated a basic canon, Canon 34 of the Apostolic Canons, which directs that the president of a synod do nothing without the consent of the other bishops. Moreover, Sergius was not even really the canonical head of the Church – that was Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsa. Sergius was on the deputy locum tenens, a position of temporary administrative status, certainly not entitled to make such momentous decisions, and certainly not to do so unilaterally.
2. He silenced the clergy who disagreed with him with (suspension, defrocking, unlawful transfers, etc., , and he declared all those who opposed him were “counter-revolutionaries” and therefore subject to prosecution under Soviet law.
3. Stalin made him “patriarch” with a fraudulent election during WWII, in 1943.